Just checking the blog still works!

I think my last post was our annual gingerbread house demolition, so it’s been a while! The easiest way to bring things up to date was to randomly select a range of photos and tell the story of each. It has been incredibly busy day-to-day, add a long harsh summer with bizarre weather conditions, virtually no rain and loads happening in my world of sourdough. As I keep saying, this retirement gig is hard work! So here’s the update in pics.

Our daughter and grandsons designed these gorgeous little signs as part of our Christmas gift to put in our lane. I thought they were beautiful decorative additions and the bonus is that I think they have really made people slow down a bit (well some anyway).  We had our annual Baw Baw Sustainability Network open food gardens day in January which was an absolute cracker of a weekend. Over 160 people came through our garden who we got to share stories with, offer and receive some tips and celebrate growing your own food. I run a Facebook support group for Australian Sourdough Bakers where the focus is geared on giving advice and support, in particular to new bakers. I also encourage people share leads for supplies of local bread making supplies. This group is just about to hit 2500 members and I think many have gained valuable information from it. I negotiated a deal for members to purchase beautiful handcrafted lames at a highly discounted price than if purchasing from USA. One thing led to another and I found myself being the official Australian reseller……

This pushed me into finally setting up an online store which was an interesting challenge…. I eventually managed to navigate my way around this and am very proud of my Simply Sourdough site. It is a good way of selling everything in one space and I am amazed at how it is going. On the reno front, we have just about completed the main bathroom. Some fittings, filling and painting of trim and it will be done. Of course these last-minute things will take longer than the whole build did! My little right hand man in the kitchen just loves doing anything with creating food. He told me the Canele custard (pre the rum addition) was just like making milkshakes! Loves donning his Celia apron too! The finishing touch on the Canele. This was about the best pick from our crappy tomato season. Wasn’t worth planting this year. Something that came totally out of the blue was being approached by Gippsland Magazine to see if we were willing to have an article about my little bread business and our home run in it. I was nearly beside myself thinking they’d not find enough to talk about, but all went well and we featured on the front cover! That’s a bit special and testimony to all the hard work we have done. The magazines a great way to learn more about our region. As well as my weekly community bread bakes, I’ve had a few special event bakes and did a presentation to a large group at the ‘Women on Farms‘ event held at Gippsland Community college about baking sourdough. I quite enjoy doing these presentations, especially when I receive thank you gifts such as this lovely tea towel designed by Rachel Flynn at Red Tractor Designs. I love this but Mr ATMT doesn’t have the same level of appreciation for it as I. I’ve been playing around working on a 100% sourdough baguette and I am getting close to being satisfied with it. Nothing I Googled really resembled a classic baguette which is what I am aiming for. These were for a special order on a grazing table and they kindly sent me a crumb shot. Nearly there with this formula!Getting my creative side on with this arrangement of  cotoneaster, spent agapanthus heads and coprosma cuttings. So basically its a bucket of weeds!  Quite pretty if I say so myself.Lastly for the Catch up snippets, team Dad ‘N Dave have returned from their trip to Nepal as part of the Habitat Australia earthquake victims home rebuilding project and feel their contribution  to the cause was valuable. Such trying conditions and extreme levels of hardship on these people make you wonder how they maintain the happy dispositions they have. A huge thank you to all those who supported Geoff and David in this project.

Let’s see if I can get another post in before Christmas!

Elderflowers and pomegranates.

Well this first pic has absolutely nothing to do with pomegranates or elderflowers but I always get excited when I play with compost. We are starting to sort out the area down the west side of the house where the clothesline is and up until now I’ve had one of my 6 compost bins there. This needed to be moved to make way for a couple of garden beds for espaliers and so we can put toppings on the ground. This is the area I mean. The espaliered pear on the left is the one I planted in 2012 before we moved in. This is the thumbnail pic of way back then. So anyway, compost out of the way, now Mr ATMT could get busy building beds and shovelling crushed rock. Just about tamed this area now and the soil certainly smells a whole lot better than it did when we started out. It doesn’t look anywhere near as ‘nursing home’ as this in reality! Trust me.

This is the area when we purchased. No sunlight had touched the house for years and everything was mouldy, damp, smelly and even though it had that ‘old world charm’ feel to it it was pretty gross. We also had fencing installed between us and our immediate neighbour.

So on to elderflowers and pomegranates!

One of the first things I planted was what I had bought as an elderflower plant. The goal was to screen and offer protection from summer afternoon sun to the chook house and to create wonderful cordials and beverages. Sadly this plant has only reached one of these objectives. It has worked extremely well protecting the chook house but sadly not one berry to be had and the cordial I made from the (very pretty) flowers tasted of freshly chopped grass. Time to rethink me thinks.

I’ve started the cut back here so the winter sun can reach the chook house. This plant shoots back amazingly well.

This pic shows the floret remains where berries should form, or so I think. These are the very pretty flowers that adorn the bush prolifically but according to some lovely visitors we had at our food gardens open day, they didn’t have the right fragrance. They were quite experienced in elderflowers apparently so I’ve started to wonder if we actually have a legitimate variety. Further investigation to take place now as I love the idea of elderflower champagne.  I planted a little pomegranate bush near the doors of the greenhouse last season and it is just going nuts. I absolutely love everything about pomegranates, and will be beside myself if we actually get to harvest a homegrown one. The bush has been continually in flower for a  while so Ive been giving the flowers a tickle with a little paint brush between male and female flowers in the hope pollination will be more successful. Well, lookie here! I do believe we may actually have a baby pom in the making. I’ve found another 2 now so these are going to be watched closely to see what evolves. I have such fond memories of fresh pomegranate juice at all the roadside stalls throughout Turkey.

And a couple of tag alongs!

The coriander I have been drying to save seed from is now ready to be thrashed to separate the seeds. I always feel a little bit clever when something so easy takes place. I get better results growing it for seed than I do as a herb as it just seems to bolt quickly. The grapes in the berry house are turning in colour. These grapes taste of passionfruit and are absolutely delicious. Just need to make sure there are absolutely no little points of access for the birds who think they are delicious too. Then there is this! I planted some pumpkin seeds I had saved from a perfectly normal looking butternut pumpkin and this is whats growing. I’m going to let it continue and see what evolves, it may be something stunning. We’ll wait and see. So that’s the little catch up, if you have any knowledge about elderflowers varieties, pomegranates or dodgy looking pumpkin plants I’d love to hear from you.

In My Kitchen-For the first time in a while!

I was having a look around my kitchen to see if there may be anything of interest to post and realised it is exactly one year since I moved from the temporary kitchen into our new lovely space. I posted about having a new oven installed at the end of July last year. Twelve months on and I can honestly say I am thrilled with my Falcon oven. Not too thrilled though that it threw a door seal the other night, will have to get that sorted pretty quickly. There has not been one moment when I haven’t been thrilled with this oven and its performance. So back to what’s to share In My Kitchen this month. We now have Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings doing the linking up of fellow IMKer’s, thanks Sherry!

Here I have some sourdough croissants that look suspiciously like crumbed chicken. I finely chopped hazelnuts and almonds to sprinkle over the top and it makes them look crumbed. Glazed with a rosewater glaze they were a great success with the kids arguing over who got how many and some whinging that they “always” miss out. The recipe for these completely sourdough croissants is from Shipton Mill, I have made it a few times and it always goes well. I made these smaller as a mini croissants which were cut to about 7cm wide X 15cm long. They should have proofed another couple of hours but it had already been 24hours and I got impatient! Here are definitely the last tomatoes for this season. I picked these from the greenhouse today and to be honest I was quite surprised to see them. Mr ATMT has been working his ‘not quite as young as he used to be’ body out laying brick paving in the area outside the kitchen. These bricks are reclaimed from a local demolition company and look really great. The orange tree we moved is coping really well so far and the overnight temperatures that have been down to -4 haven’t knocked it much at all.  Now to get some fence screen planting in. I think lots of citrus will do very nicely.I love fruit cake but we never have it as I am the only one who eats it. My sister gave me this boiled fruit cake and I am looking forward to working my way through it with my cup of tea each day. My girlfriend brought me back these napkins from her overseas trip. I hope they don’t say anything offensive, feel free to translate for me! I have a new bread knife In My Kitchen, crusty sourdough bread can be a challenge for cutting and I love this Opinel bread knife. I have 2 new books. I bought the Bien Cuit bread book because I love the pictures and it is a nice book to have on the coffee table (which we don’t have!) and the Culinary Adventures  of Marakesh was kindly given to me by a neighbour. I have only started delving into this and I think it will be quite an enjoyable read. Is anyone else familiar with this book? Lastly for this months’s IMK post is a picture of our classic winter Saturday or Sunday wake up snack. A cup of tea with some toasted sourdough, here it is fruit loaf with raspberry jam on one and quince jelly on the other. Bloody lovely! Now off to have a look at the other “In My Kitchen” posts.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Remember me? Lots to report and plans afoot.

I keep wondering why I have had so much trouble getting to writing posts and I have come to the conclusion that when I was working I was looking for a form of escapism and regular blog posts were like therapy to me. Since having left work I am continually doing things that I enjoy, am busy all of the time and just don’t seem to have the time to sit and focus on writing a post.  We also spent a month in New Zealand that I haven’t worked out how to write about as I’m still not sure how I really felt about it. Whoever said they didn’t know how they had time to go to work was right on the money. So what’s been happening?

The new Courtyard Taking shape.

This area is out from the kitchen and up until recently has been mainly a utility area. The blood orange tree was planted against a wall but left freestanding after we rotated the ‘dentist’ room.  The area will be paved, have some kitchen garden plantings and be a great outdoor eating area. We took a gamble and using some great tips from a lovely Instagram friend, moved the orange tree (thanks @minipermaculture). It actually looks like it is doing better now than it was where it was moved from. We trimmed it back, planted it in a large hole that was full of compost, worm castings and other goodies, gave it a drink of very weak Seasol and sprayed the foliage with this solution as well. We are now making sure it is protected from the extremely harsh frosts we are experiencing and keeping everything crossed. The water feature is my leaving gift from work and once it integrates to lots of greenery it should ‘disappear’ yet be a focal point at the same time.

Seems to be doing well so far! Fingers crossed for us. This is the area with recycled bricks waiting to be laid by the very weary Mr ATMT who has been working his butt off. As well as the courtyard area, we are working towards getting the driveway edging and toppings done, but we had to run power and water to the courtyard first which meant making some mud. We hired a little digger and plumber son did a great job running the trenches for pipes and cables.

He got a bit of help with this little cutie. What is it about machinery that is so appealing?It’s coming together nicely and I am pleased to say we have just about lost all of the leaves  from the oak. I haven’t managed to accumulate much in the way of leaf old so far but they will still be waiting for me to collect and mulch up so there is no rush.

Some exciting plans.

I had always said I would convert the ‘dentist’s  room’ into a preserving or food related area and have made the decision to fit it out as a registered kitchen so I can have approval to sell  my bread. This is the white room on the right and I am currently working through all of the necessary red tape to satisfy council requirements. My plan is to only sell by pre-order of loaves I enjoy making and keeping it manageable and most importantly, enjoyable. We have so far stripped it out and are getting the electrical and plumbing sorted out so I can plaster, tile, fit out and get things on the road. I am really excited about this, its not planned to be a big commercial operation, just me making something I love doing, on my own terms. This is what it was like inside before I started gutting it. As well as working towards registering the kitchen I am planning on holding some workshops for people interested in learning how to make sourdough. I had a lovely group of ‘guinea pigs’ come at the weekend so I could get an idea of how the format I had in my head worked in real-time. We had a lot of fun and I have tweaked quite a few concepts of how to present and once we have the council tick I will offer some workshops. It is a really good way for me to think about how things are done and improve my skills as well.We hd a little set back with the new bathroom/laundry that was part of the exteno. I posted that I was thrilled that we finally had a finished room, and then KAPOW, poor Mr ATMT was wiping out the shower and came up under the tiled-in soap shelf.Luckily no damage to him, (I did ask!)and we have decided to replace that shelf tile with 2 single tiles as it is highly likely that this would happen again. Back to the suction cup rack but comfortable that it will be safer.Out in the garden I have some broccoli heading up, the bok choy and leeks are doing really and I still have a couple of capsicum hanging on in the greenhouse.

  

Here is an assortment of my Friday family & friend bake. Some multigrain, some flaxseed loaves that are using the excellent recipe that Francesca over at Almost Italian  posted and some light rye loaves. I love the way the kids are so keen to collect their bread on A Friday night or Saturday morning to get them through the week. Finally I just have to share this gorgeous video of our grandson experiencing milling flour for the first time. It is especially precious to me, as I would have had welts in a few places if I’d been caught sitting on the kitchen bench like this. I am going to let him sit and participate with me as much and as often as possible! I love it.

 

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Lots of Up-cycling going on here.

Now that we have pretty much got the main components of the exteno done, we can focus on sorting through all of the things that have been in the shed, in the ‘Dentist’s and in boxes throughout the house. As we cleared through each area I insisted we be ruthless and tag things to go, repair or keep if they had a good purpose. Determined to minimise landfill, we eliminated quite a bit through a local buy/swap/sell site and the couple of items left from that will probably go to the op-shop. We placed a couple of bits on the nature strip and they miraculously disappeared, the op shops have received a large amount and we are left with the things that needed to be repaired. All of these have been moved into the room we used as the temporary kitchen and I’m working through them one at a time. Fly-screens, piano stool, old wooden train, cupboard, a toy cradle and a few other bits and pieces. This chair is a folding directors chair that Mr ATMT’s grandfather made. It is beautiful, comfortable and very special to us. I’ll re-glue the joints, paint it and make some new covers. These original covers were made complete with hessian backing and I am excited about giving life and purpose to it. We also have a couple of card tables made by Grandpa hiding in this pile.

grandpas-dir-chairFor my first repair task I tackled this cute little cupboard which I believe was a chamber pot cupboard. It has been in Mr ATMT’s family for years, he can remember it being at their holiday house in Sorrento and moved to the replacement house at Blairgowrie where it was used for toiletries in the bunk room bathroom. I forgot to take a pre photo but it was pretty awful. Stained mustard yellow, rusty latches some ply wood missing. I wasn’t prepared to invest a lot of time or energy on it, so a sand, some filler and a couple of coats of paint and I think it will serve as a bedside table well.  I couldn’t bring myself to straighten the latches!potty-cupboardI found this old woollen army blanket that certainly looks like it has seen better days but the area out from the centre is quite good so I’ll make some pot holders from it. Wool is a great thermal barrier so I’m hoping they will work well for the hot, bread baking pots. The scrap will go into the compost or somewhere in the garden that needs some weed suppression. moth-eaten-blanketI had a cake stand that the stand had separated from the base so a bit of glue and it’s as good as new. This is it having a bit of ‘gentle weight’ applied while the glue dries.

img_0694Then there was Mr Squiggle, Mr Squiggle is one of Australia’s iconic childrens TV programs that aired for many generations.  This Mr Squiggle was a much loved toy of our older son and  now that we need to have a few things on hand to entertain our grandson, I thought I’d see how he came up with some surgery.  He was in a sad and sorry state, legs off and his innards suffering a serious prolapse, his head attached by a thread and he was generally in need of some TLC.

img_1801mr-squiggle-pre-surgeryimg_1802

With some stitching (I’m telling myself is as good as a Japanese embroiderer), a bath, a hair cut and a rubdown he is back in action. I should do a red tie just to finish him off. You know I’m not going to let him anywhere near the toy box now, don’t you!mr-squiggle-post-surgery Here are a couple of items not in our room of repair but acquired from the op-shop.

A Phil & Teds stroller (I’m told that is a good brand). It makes life easier for everyone not having to unload and transport half the house when we have Charlie so I went to the op shop on the odd chance and bingo! $20.00 later, a good go over with the pressure cleaner and we are set. A little bit of sun fading but everything else is fine. This came complete with a baby carrycot, extra seat so you can fit another child in, rain cover, sunshade cover, bag and it is great to handle. Thank you to whoever took this to the op-shop.

strollerI also stumbled on this book at the op-shop. What are the chances? Our grandson is Charlie and their dog is Baxter. Spooky…………had to get it!

baxter-book

baxter-charlie-book

Then there is the most dramatic up-cycling of all. We have moved the room affectionately know as ‘The Dentist’. It was either move it or lose it, as you looked directly out to it from the new kitchen window. By moving it we can create a courtyard area than we can access from the kitchen verandah, keep the history and still get to use the room for whatever we want.

dentist-after-move That concrete in the middle is the original steps into the room. It has opened up the space wonderfully and I am thrilled. future-courtyard       A couple of chains, a couple of jacks, a few logs, someone who knows what they are doing and snap!

img_0654 img_0659

We have managed to dispose a lot and thankfully not to landfill. If any of the repair jobs become bigger than I envisaged they will be re-assessed and dealt with accordingly.

I am delighted with being able to keep the dentist room. I can see this being an integral part of the landscape and not just a room in the wrong place!

Now, if only I can come up with a use for THAT crystal.

So, 2017. What is planned?

We knew 2016 was going to be a big year and it was. Our first grandchild (I cannot believe he turns 1 on Saturday), a wedding, an overseas trip to Greece and Turkey, our exteno close to finished. In what was an unplanned and somewhat hasty move I decided to pull the plug on a job that was sending me nuts. Best decision I could have made and most importantly, yes, I have a kitchen. A kitchen with everything in the same room, an oven bigger than a pocket handkerchief and a space that is a delight to work and entertain in.

img_1617  Consequently, I find that I am spending a huge amount of time ‘playing’ in this new space. I do struggle some days trying to justify my ‘playtime’, but then remind myself that it has been a very long time since I have had the opportunity to really enjoy being in the kitchen. I love the fact I don’t have to get anxious about fitting whatever I decide to make into a tight timeline but can cruise and enjoy. That is a little hard to get used to but I’m practicing a lot at getting it right!

Because of this my vegetable garden has also been a bit neglected but things seem to be taking care of themselves pretty well considering. A bit of water has been splashed around on those really hot days but the wicking beds seem to be doing their job well. The basic food stuffs are growing  and starting to bear,  tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkins, chills, beans and herbs. I must add some salad greens next week. I made this little video doing a tour of the veggie patch.

 

So what are the plans for 2017?

Painting is definitely up there. The windows, both new and old all need painting. Mr ATMT is planning on cracking on with painting the outside of the house and that is huge.

We are heading to New Zealand for  4 weeks a little later in the year so I am looking forward to eating (and drinking) our way around both islands at our own leisure.

As always there will be tinkering in the garden with setting up a couple of new areas, moving an old building (the visiting dentist’s room) to create a courtyard off the kitchen and tarting up the front yard a bit.

Bread-lots more bread! I really want to focus on developing more and more skill with sourdough baking. I am concentrating on milling my own grains, using lower hydration starters and creating more baked goods using sourdough. Things such as muffins, pastries, crackers (dry biscuits) and more. These are some sourdough croissants,

15936863_10155014395349455_8363030558073077763_oThese loaves are made using my home milled whole wheat and blending it with organic white flour.15800610_10155009828704455_2292718470782370349_oI have so many friends who want me to do some classes that I need to plan and work out the logistics of how this can happen.

I also want to get back into cheesemaking. I won a few awards at the Red Hill Show many years ago and have done intensive study at Gilbert Chandler University in Werribee. We dug out these old awards when moving ‘stuff’ out of the dentists room we are moving.cheese-awardsI stopped making cheese for a couple of reasons, due to arthritis I had undergone joint fusion in my fingers so I was a bit nervous about lifting 20 litre containers of hot liquid without incident, it was overtaking our home (the old home), kitchen, lounge-room and garage and the family were having to live around all of the paraphernalia and then there was the change in health regs and it became increasingly difficult to source a milk supply from local dairy farmers. This last point is going to be a challenge still, as many of the dairy farmers have opted out of dairying due to the hammering they got from major supermarkets squeezing the cost down to a point where it was just not viable. I would never be able to sell my cheese but is a process I loved doing and friends and family that ate the results loved it. Ah, our nanny state……. one wonders how Europeans have survived for so long.

These things along with spending time with our delightful little fella will take up more time than I imagine now. I might fit in a bit of work too, who knows what the wind will blow in?

 

 

 

 

 

In my kitchen-Finally!

For those that don’t get regular updates to my posts, for the last four years I have endured living with no real kitchen, no hot and cold water connected at the same outlets, bucketing water for dishes, no real oven, no proper storage and have been using the gas camping cooker as a range. I’m not complaining, luckily I am a very resourceful person and have managed quite well even down to baking our sourdough bread weekly in either the ‘Sunbeam Pizza Bake N grill bench top oven’ or on the gas BBQ.

This was the space when we first moved in to this house, there was no cold water to the sink, only hot. The cupboards, floor and wall were all rotten and stunk!

Kitchen 1We started our ‘exteno’ this time last year, it involved moving the existing wall out another 6 or so metres, plus there so much other work my mind starts to glaze over just thinking about it. Check out my blog for full details, I shudder at remembering it in detail! This shot shows things in early progress stage.

Kitchen layout This is what our dishwashing facilities were in February this year. That was fun, as we had ours sons wedding and houseful of guests! Kitchen sink removed This is the same corner where just today we brought in the antique dresser/sideboard that I have been working on restoring over the last few weeks. The unit had been coated with polyurethane that gave it an orange ‘glow’ and I was adamant that I wanted it back to its raw timber state. I have dressed the timber with Feast and Watsons carnauba wax which is a natural blend of beeswax, citrus oils and some other wonderful smelling goodies. This has been a labour of love, my hands hurt like hell but I don’t care, I love it! sideboardThis is the sort of project where you need to know when to stop, if you are into things being pristine and ‘neat’ then these projects would leave you disappointed. I’ve yet to put the handles on and the hinges need a tweak or two, but overall I am so happy with this project. Notice the chimney has also been stripped and that there are real benches in the middle of the room (albeit covered with bread making ‘stuff’). I now need to fill this beauty with some very special items. When I was about 16/17, I went with my then boyfriend to pick up some second hand golfing stuff his father had bought from the ‘Trading Post’ (yes, pre buy/swap/sell days) and this lovely old lady was getting rid of a beautiful Royal Doulton dinner set. Well this dinner set has moved with me, been boxed for years and only once or twice seen the light of day as I knew one day I would have an old dresser where I could display it. I have no idea why I bought it, but I thought the $8.00 she was asking wasn’t such a bad investment. Complete with soup bowls that have little handles and everything else. Don’t think it’s valuable, but I am very excited about seeing it out from the boxes and realising my dream that ‘one day’ has come .img_9508Tonight was the first night we could cook outside, ON THE NEW DECK! There are just too many things being achieved all at once now, I don’t know where to start. Hope you like the lovely stand the Weber Q is on! This pic is from the new deck looking back into the kitchen space. The boys are debating whether the light fitting over the island bench that moves in the breeze because its not tightened should stay on the angle. It’s one of those bottle of red discussions!img_9519-001I’ve been turning out some pretty impressive sourdough bread,img_0814 And because I have a real stove top, I can take my Indian Karahi out of the shed andimg_0827create meals like this beautiful Indian vegetarian matar paneer curry,img_0828 or this cumin stew which is a recipe from the Anatolia cook book. I have returned this to the library and forgot to write the recipe down, but it was lovely, strong flavour but lovely.Cumin stewI made Turkish boregi (water pastry) which is really a light style of lasagne. I needed to use up some things in the fridge so this is what it tuned into. This was really easy, I will add the recipe later this week. A great picnic, holiday dish.img_0841 img_0833I know there is so much else to report “In My Kitchen” since the necessary hiatus it has undertaken. Thanks to Liz at Bizzy Lizzie Good Things for picking up the reins and supporting us all in sharing what is ‘In My Kitchen’ every month. I never thought I’d see the day when I could actually say I had a kitchen. Still a few things to do, range hood, display shelves, splash backs behind the benches and stove, painting the windows etc but we are pretty much there. This time last year the kitchen benches were still standing as the framework of the old rooms, covered in cobwebs and all sorts of other debris. I’m happy that we have retained the feel of the old house but the working components are clean an functional.img_9523

Redirection.

Today is officially my last day of being employed by the Victorian Department of Education & Training. I am not retiring (not quite at that magical age) but I have not been happy and felt that I needed some space to focus on directing my energy into areas I am positive about. Things like sustainability, food, bread making, environmental issues, waste management and of course grand parenting, painting and working on some much needed reno jobs. I am fortunate enough that our money man said we should be able to survive without relying on the soup kitchen, so why not?

So this afternoon, we had a little toast to my freedom of being able to choose which direction I want to take, while sitting in the back yard with one of the few glimpses of sun we have seen so far this Spring.  Watching the wattle birds and magpies shows we have come a long way from only seeing mynah and blackbirds on the block. Yes, the champagne bottle was carelessly placed onto the grass (chucked from the chair!).

champagne-bottleAfter the little toast ceremony I got stuck into working on stripping the hutch section of the antique dresser that will go into the kitchen. This unit is integral to a whole lot of other steps being able to proceed so I need to get it done.  This is me using the gurney to wash off the water based paint stripper I’d applied to remove the old polish and poly-urethane finish.img_4013This is the hutch after first stripping attempt. Lots of sanding, cleaning and waxing to be done yet.img_9446This is the base of the unit waiting to have the doors and drawers refitted. I’m really happy with the result. I’ve used a Carnauba  Wax finish and it is lovely and smells wonderful with its citric and beeswax base.DresserThe doors done and waiting on the base unit to come into the kitchen. I really think this old dresser will bring a sense of history to the room and I’m very excited about it. The hutch I’m working on is on the rear right of this base unit.sideboard-bottomGlenda’s Orange MuffinsOrange MuffinsA couple of months ago Glenda from ‘Passionfruit Garden‘ posted a recipe for orange/lemon muffins and we also had a giggle about conquering Ikea and its complexities. I made Glenda’s recipe for the orange muffins this week and came to the conclusion that Glenda is a much neater and far more consistent baker than I. Her muffins looked perfect and as you can see mine are a bit all over the shop. Never mind, they still tasted great and the orange syrup that goes over them at the last minute just sets them off beautifully. This was the first baking apart from bread I’ve done in the new oven so I’m still getting to learn its foibles which thankfully aren’t too many.

So, here I am unemployed for the first time in 42 years. Feels GREAT!

 

Catch up post. Kombucha among other things.

Well it was time to do the taste test! My first batch of kombucha had been bottled for a second fermentation which I had read creates better carbonation, 2 bottles with some ginger added and 1 plain.

KombuchaI had read that kombucha can be pretty explosive on opening, so I decided to do this outside. Good decision!img_9281This is the trail of exploded KB over the side path. Haven’t seen something like that since the kids were home and had partied hard! I probably should have taken heed of the people who recommend refrigerating the bottles before opening. I’ll take that on board for the next batch.kombuchaThis what remained in the bottle after the explosive opening.Ginger kombuchaI can say though, I loved the flavour. The slight ginger overtones were wonderful and it was bubbly and refreshing.

For a wander through the patch.

It feels like an eon since I’ve played in my veggie patch, probably because it is. We are opening again for the food gardens section of Gardivalia this year so I had better pull my finger out and get things in order.

AsparagusThere are signs of life coming from the asparagus bed,Crimson broad beansthe crimson broad beans my brother-in-law gave me look so pretty,Broad beansand the normal ones are in flower too.coriander growingWhen I was sorting out moving stuff from the temporary kitchen to the new kitchen I threw some old coriander seed into this bed and hopefully it will keep growing. I don’t have much luck with coriander so fingers crossed.De la mal maison roseThe souvenir de la mal maison climbing rose I planted last year near the green house is in bud. I can’t wait to see these bloom, one of my favourites.leaf mold compostI spread one of the  leaf mold towers we had breaking down for the last 12 months over this bed, I now need to choose a spot for the next one to be placed. So easy just removing the wire and spreading the lush conditioner over the bed.

BREAD

I’m finally getting a handle on how the new oven operates and made some oat porridge bread. Here is the oats cooking (on a real stove top!) waiting to cool to add to the dough.Oat porridge breadThis one of the 3 loaves I made. I used the recipe from the delightful Maurizio’s site and although once again, it’s not as pretty as his. I’m quite happy with the result. Oat Porridge sourdough breadCrumb shot! Not as fine as Maurizio’s but I didn’t mind.Crumb shot oat porridge sourdough.With spring in the air and me officially finishing work I hope to be able to get a bit more in control and do some finishing off of all our half started jobs.

Putting things together.

We are very close to the finishing stages of our kitchen and exteno project. IMG_8852I’m in the process of moving everything from the temporary kitchen, the old dentist room, the shed and the spare bedroom into our new kitchen. So far all the bits are fitting in beautifully and I will have oodles of space to store everything. I’m being ruthless and items not thought about, used in 12 months or damaged are going straight to the op shop pile or tossed.  We still haven’t got water and gas connected in the kitchen but we do have it in the laundry so we have been able to clear the plastic table and babies bath out from the bathroom and can wash dishes in the laundry. This has been the greatest challenge I’ve faced with this whole experience. I really didn’t like having a loo in the dishwashing area!IMG_8848We can now work on plans for renovating this bathroom. The part with insulation is where we have extended the wall out from the existing room. Love the drapes? 2 shower curtains that do the job well enough. We still have to do a few jobs but it is certainly well on the way to completion and the space is working extremely well.IMG_8887 IMG_8859I’m still using the 2 butane gas camping stoves and hope this box of butane cans is the last I will need to buy for home use. They are an excellent product and you can cook everything on these cookers, I suspect there may even be times when I take one outside to the verandah to cook with.  IMG_8904We had friends around for tea last night and I felt like doing something ‘Asian’ so went to the gorgeous Dumpling Sisters website for some inspiration. My first exposure to the Dumpling Sisters was when Celia posted about their fantastic home made dumplings and I made the wrappers from scratch. Their dumplings are great and the wrappers are oh so easy! Anyway, for this meal I made their Mapo Tofu, well, it was improvised based around what I had and what I couldn’t get locally. I didn’t have chilli bean sauce so I used black bean sauce and added some chilli sauce and some of my home made chilli paste. I couldn’t get soft tofu, so I used hard but fried it off first to give it a nicer texture. I used veal instead of beef as I had taken some out of the freezer earlier to make  dumplings with. I added fresh beans, omitted the black beans and served with chopped red capsicum and spring onions. It was delicious!IMG_8863Next  up was their ‘One Pot Cauli Satay’. I’m not a huge fan of satay but I love cauliflower and really enjoyed this meal. I added a chicken thigh fillet, halved the curry powder (Keens) and also added peas. This was great! Glad I cut back on the curry as I was concerned that it would be too hot, but with using half it turned out to be just right.IMG_8864For desert (very unusual for us) I made lychee and orange sorbet. This was absolutely delicious, served with our freshly picked oranges that had been segmented and sitting in their own juice for a couple of hours. I only made half the recipe and it was more than enough for the four of us. We still have some in the freezer for when I need a hit. This would have to be one of the easiest and lightest of deserts I have ever made. It was perfect for finishing off the chinese style  dishes and cleansing the pallette.IMG_8870Today I bottled my Kombucha, I added ginger to 2 bottles and left one plain. I believe this will now do a 2nd fermentation in the bottle resulting in a bubbly beverage. Fingers crossed. I made a fresh batch with the scoby and a fresh batch of sweet black tea. Like the reflection on the bottles!IMG_8898I love my soda stream,  I have had one since they were first released and came with small glass bottles. I love the concept and my main reason for using one is to avoid all the plastic bottles soda water comes in. We usually use fresh fruit or lime cordial that you can buy in glass bottles for flavouring. I wasn’t really happy when I read this on the side of one of their new style bottles. Why on earth would these have such a short shelf life? Some research is called for here, but I suspect I might be going back to an old fashioned soda syphon that come with metal gas bombs and a steel carbonation chamber. IMG_8892I’m working on getting better results with baking bread in my new oven but I must say, the Sunbeam Pizza Bake N Grill is hard to match! Still a way to go but it does taste great.IMG_8874My capacola is doing what it should be doing. Not smelly, no blowflies, no mould and it actually smells wonderful. I’ll watch the conditions carefully and if it starts to warm up I’ll take it our daughters house which has a very cool and humid underfloor area.IMG_8856We’ve been picking oranges and amazingly Rene has been laying eggs. She is over 4 years old and we thought she’d lost it but it appears we were wrong. This equates to pretty much one a day. IMG_8851I’m impressed!